SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Commercialism is developing a conscience in the Asia Pacific region, where over six in 10 shoppers are buying items that are either "fair trade" or environmentally friendly, a survey shows.
The MasterCard poll, which involved more 3,500 consumers in 13 markets in the region in late 2009, also found 70 percent of respondents said they would go out of their way to purchase ecologically sound gifts, and don't mind paying extra for them.
"There is a shift toward ethical shopping for a new class of knowledgeable and discerning shoppers in the region," said Georgette Tan, MasterCard's vice president of communications for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.
"Consumers are now aware that even when they make their purchases, they can make a difference," she said in a statement.
Five of the markets surveyed scored above the regional average for willing to pay more for environmentally friendly items with China leading the curve at 94 percent, followed by Thailand (87 percent), India (83 percent), the Philippines (82 percent) and Hong Kong (77 percent).
China and India are among the world's worst pollution offenders.
Ethical shopping was embraced by both males and females in the region, where more than 80 percent of respondents said they were likely to somewhat likely to make a purchase just because the merchant was socially and environmentally responsible.
The survey also found that 60 percent of the respondents in Asia Pacific purchased items because a percentage of the sale is donated to a good cause.
Amongst those surveyed, shops and retail outlets, rather than online shopping sites, were the preferred location for more than 60 percent of shoppers looking for buy ethical goods, even though those that did shop online said there was more choice for environmentally friendly and fair trade items on the Internet.
The survey involved consumers from several countries including Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan and Thailand.
Writing by Miral Fahmy; Editing by Jerry Norton